October 31, 2007

we're living for Your name

i wonder if God is anything like me...

because as hard as i try to stretch my imagination in this area, my idea of Him is always a really big, older dude hanging out in the clouds looking down at the things He made and just checking it all out. making Himself known so that everyone would try to live a good life because they just know He's watching their every move.

every now and then i'm able to stretch it a little bit farther to incorporate a little bit of tenderness. when we are weeping, He manages to stretch down His arms to embrace us for a little while. or at least He calls to us and reminds us that He's right there with us. sometimes the wind blows and He brushes our hair out of our faces to remind us that He made beautiful things. things we can see and things we can't. but He's still just reminding us that He's there.

the one that i have a really hard time with is His joy and happiness. His excitement. i mean, when i get excited about something, i REALLY get excited about it. just ask my hallmates who've had to deal with me practically knocking down their door everytime i get an email about the praise team or the people like rob who receive way too many text messages and calls just because i'm really excited about something going on. so i'm wondering if God is like me. does He get really really excited about things? i'm sure He does. like when a child decides to join His side, when someone's fate is sealed and they know they're going to Heaven to be with Him in the end. or just when He's watching us worship Him in so many different ways on sundays: whether it's e-kids, "big" church, serving through tearing down and setting up, or just loving each other. He's got to be proud of that and excited about that. He has to laugh, right?

i know He doesn't have a human shape, but that's how i have to think of Him because it's all i know; it's the only thing i can put emotions and feelings into. and if He really did, would He dance around and jump and sing like we do? like i do?
because right now my picture of Him is just so conservative and...honestly, kind of boring. that can't be how He really is though, right?
i don't why i'm putting that in question form, it's not like you can answer...

October 29, 2007

i want so badly to believe

there are a lot of situations in which i think i'm completely alone, in the sense that i might be the only one feeling this way, only to find out that there are plenty of people who feel the exact same way.
today's example: doubting.

i gotta say that i doubt a lot.
my dad has a really hard time believing things that he can't see. i told him last week that the sky here in rock hill and charlotte is bluer than it is in greenville. because i think it is. it's different. it's better. so my dad asked me how. and well, really...i don't have an answer. i can't explain why it looks different. i mean, i'm sure air pollution and the amount of people and buildings in the area and junk has something to do with it, but i can't sit down and give you a scientific answer for why that is. and he told me that he has a really hard time believing in things that he can't see. so i asked him how he believed in God, and he said that he doesn't know, he just does.

i have a hard time in believing in things i can't see.
and as much as i am completely on fire for and in love with God, sometimes it's hard for me to fully grasp the concept that there even is a God. it's just so impossible for my brain to accept that i'm following someone who, to it's knowledge, does not and will not ever physically exist. my doubts are with me every single day and they drive me crazy because i want to so badly to believe that God is alive and walking with me every day. it's just so hard.

and because i've been told that i've made too many decisions based on my "feelings," i'm not sure when i'm feeling God tug on my heart or when it's just my own personal desires. the sad thing is that i find it easier to believe in satan than i do God. i find it easier to make the excuse that satan is tempting me to do something, rather than God is calling me to do the opposite. i think this is why Dominate is so hard for me. i want SO BADLY to ask God what i'm supposed to give, to have God tell me exactly what to give, and to be obedient and just give it away. but i'm not getting that at all, and i'm still left wondering what i'm gonna give to this movement. or maybe i do know what i'm giving (i do have a number and i plan on giving it) but i'm not sure if i made the decision or if God told me so.

so what does this leave me with?
this leaves me with a cycle. a cycle of having (small) doubts in the back of my mind that there actually is an Almighty, Wonderful, Beautiful, Presence on the other side of this life, but still always following Him with my heart and trying to live a life that would make Him proud. i am consumed by something. every single day my chest and my heart is filled with a feeling that is heavy and freeing at the same time, and the only way i can explain that is to say i have my God. i have faith somehow in the middle of all of this junk.

maybe this blog was a bad idea...

October 24, 2007

why are you so dumb sometimes?

so says Jesus.

last night, like right after i had written the blog below this one, i did my quiet time and laughed out loud at the Bible for maybe the first time ever and had to do this.
sometimes Jesus' disciples were so dumb.
sometimes we are so dumb.

ok so after Jesus feeds the 4000 (see like.. 2 entries down. another part that made me laugh, thinking we're so faithless and stupid sometimes), they leave and the Pharisees and Sadducees come up to Him and ask for a sign from Heaven. He brings up a saying (which i never knew was from the Bible but i've known it for such a long time), which roughly is: red sky at night, sailor's delight; red sky in the morning, sailors take warning. and tells them how they can make these predictions about the weather and interpret those but they can not interpret a sign from Heaven. He tells them they won't get one because they won't believe it anyways and will keep asking for more.

so then Jesus and the disciples go off somewhere else, and all of a sudden the disciples realize that they forgot to bring bread for them. so Jesus (still talking about what just happened earlier) says "be careful...be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees" [matt16:6]. and they think He's mad at them for forgetting to bring along bread.
i'm not even really sure why it makes me laugh. how many parables did Jesus have to use (and then explain out to them) before they could understand that what He said wasn't always exactly what He meant. that there was meaning behind it. they're freaking out because they don't have food and He's trying to teach them about who to follow and what to believe... idk maybe it's just me that finds it funny.
haha so then He starts scolding them for having such little faith in Him and His teachings. like how is it really possible for them to STILL not understand what He's saying. they just got done with these two huge miracles of feeding thousands and thousands of people with 12 loaves of bread and some fish and yet they're still focused on physical needs like the food rather than what He's spiritually trying to communicate to them.

so anyways, after He basically has to spell it out for them again, they understand that it's about not following the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees and following Him.

how many times does He have to spell it out for us and prove to us that He completely 100% knows what's going on. when are we going to stop worrying about little things like food and material things and start worrying about furthering His kingdom?

and i know that i have been forgiven

i am constantly on some sort of tangent.
i am constantly stuck on something, whether it's:
-a certain song
-a certain book
-a certain quote
-a certain person
-a certain concept
-a certain picture (see picture under "this is me" and on my facebook haha)
-a certain life lesson-type thing.

for example, a month or so ago i was stuck on obedience because i had finally jumped off a cliff to be obedient to God and it paid off big time. and i'll never forget that.
right now, i think i'm about to get stuck on forgiveness and freedom. well, really i'm always stuck on freedom. it's such an amazing thing to behold.

i've got scars. physical. emotional. whatever. everyone has them.
and they can be seriously detrimental to growth. because if all you can see is the actual scar and not the lesson it helped produce, you get nowhere.
i have the word "freedom" permanently etched into my wrist for a reason. the word itself is important. the placement of it on my arm is important. it is a constant reminder that God gives me freedom from my sin and my scars and my shame and my mistakes on a daily basis. but there are rules. i can't get to finally enjoy any kind of freedom until i accept the fact that Jesus died to forgive my sins. until i accept forgiveness, i will never have freedom. if i don't ask for forgiveness and honestly believe i'm getting it, then it means nothing to me. and does nothing for me.

when i've messed up in the past (with one thing in particular) i've asked for forgiveness, but i've never taken it. i felt bad about the issue because my friends hated it. becuase they wanted me to change it, i acted like i was changing it. and there really were times i felt bad for it and i would ask forgiveness, but because i didn't believe i could get it, i was left with the same empty, disappointed feelings i'd had before.
and this time around, it's different. and i'm learning that God is totally ready to forgive us and forget how bad we manage to screw ourselves up. He wants to help us grow from it and make us better because of it. our life lessons are not learned in vain. i have a lot to learn, but i am finally feeling the freedom of forgiveness. i'm finally asking and taking.

freedom is something that is so spectacular. so phenomenal. honestly.
i guarantee there will be a blog coming completely devoted to just that and what it means to me.

October 22, 2007

we are forming a sight to behold

how many times does God have to prove Himself to us before we have faith?

i'm reading matthew. in chapter 14, Jesus feeds 5000 (MEN. that's probably my favorite part of the whole story. that it's 5000, not counting women and children. that part, and the fact that every time i think of the actual kid that gave the bread and fish and how pastor likes to say stuff like "i mean, for all we know, they could have beat up the kid and just took his food from him"). so Jesus tells His disciples to feed the people and they whine about how there's no way for them to feed that many people, failing to remember that this is the Messiah. this is God. He can do whatever He wants and He will do it well. anyway, He does it, of course. and there are leftovers...

so in chapter 15, it happens again. except this time it's a crowd of 4000 men (plus women and children), so it should seem perfectly reasonable that if He fed 5000+ in the last chapter, surely He can feed less in this one. NOT ONLY THAT, but when they fed the 5000+ they had five loaves of bread and a two fish. when they were feeding at least 1000 less, they had SEVEN loaves of bread and a few small fish. let's see:
5000 men + women and children + five loaves of bread and some fish = a fantastic miracle that was accomplished and produced leftovers.

but for some reason:
4000 men + women and children + SEVEN loaves of bread and some fish = totally impossible.

how many times does God have to perform the same miracles in our lives. not even miracles. how many times does He have to bless us before we will realize that He will always be with us and bless us. how many times does He have to do great things in our lives before we will trust Him.

He has saved my life. i was saved when i was 15 or 16. i am covered now and for the rest of my life. i've had like 3 years to get used to that. so there, that was the biggest miracle thusfar that He has performed for me, and for some reason i still don't have the faith for some of the smaller miracles He wants to perform in my life. there are still times where i can't even come up with a "sun stand still" kind of prayer. i don't have the faith to THINK of the prayers, nevermind actually pray them.

Dominate is about being radical in our faith so that we can reach thousands of people.
i think being radical is actually having the faith that we've never allowed ourselves to have before. to let go of insecurities and inhibitions and worries in worshiping Him. to jump off a cliff in faith to Him. to recognize that He's already done so much for us, what's to stop Him from doing so. much. more.

why do You love me?

i'm basically pissed at satan and how he decides he's going to attack us hardest when we're at our best, on the top, thinking we'll be up here for such a long time, never suspecting one thing can make everything fall apart...at least, temporarily.

this weekend i screwed up my spiritual walk in a big way, and i'm incredibly angry and incredibly disappointed in myself.

i'm not sure how much i deal with blatant, flat-out, action-type sins. there are sins i deal with inadvertently, but there are few times when there is a solid action that i can choose to do (or not to) and it affects me in a major way. in my case this weekend, it was choosing to do something that i have fought against for months. something i went to counseling to fix (which, considering this post is even being written, didn't work). something that i really, honestly, truly thought i was done with. and in one second of doubt. in one second of thinking "maybe just this once," i screwed myself over.

at myself
at satan
but mostly at myself. for being weak. and stupid.

so.. not only does he choose to kick us while we're down sometimes, but he chooses to search for us on the mountain. to find us when we are triumphant and to pick at something until we break. i was doing so well. and today i just felt...empty again. and (this coming from a person struggling to stop using the word "hate" so freely) i utterly HATE that feeling. knowing that i have this cavity in me where i used to let God fill me.
don't think that just because you feel great that it will not end in 5 seconds. don't take the times that you feel great for granted. because satan is seriously looking to destroy what you love. but i'm done with that. i'm fighting.

i'm giving it up to God.
and for once, i'm going to ask forgiveness and take it.
i'm going to ask this to be taken away from me, and let it go.
i'm going to ask for help to change, and i'm going to help myself change.

October 18, 2007

you've got so much Love in you

hooray for 2 am blog posts and the rocket summer and cherry coke and a full calendar to look forward to.
yes, i said hooray.
i am in a great mood.

if you've met me or talked to me at all in the past 2 months, you'll know there's a lot going on in my life right now when it comes to relationships with people.
i just got out of a 2 year on-and-off (don't you love high school) relationship. it didn't end pretty. and then right after i felt like i was losing all of my friendships that i had built up last year at school. and i knew God would do something in my life with that. He gives and takes away. He takes away and gives.
He took a good deal away from me (at least, i thought so). He's giving me back so much more.

i am amazed. blown away. overwhelmed by the people i have in my life right now.
i missed the Entourage series because this summer i somehow got so caught up with home that i lost most of my interest in Elevation, but i plan on going back and listening to it in the near future. from what i know, it's about who you let speak into your life. who you let surround you and influence you. and i'm learning that those people are so important.and that my people are great. my entourage is powerful.

i'm honestly not sure if i've ever felt this much love in my entire life. it goes so far beyond any kind of "romantic" relationship i could be in right now. it goes far beyond surface level "hey, what's up" friends. it's honestly family. it's people who laugh together and deal with problems and stress together and love each other unconditionally and hold each other up and cover each other's weaknesses and bring out each other's amazing qualities.

some of them are people that i've known for a year or more that have been consistently building up trust and love with me. who trust me for advice. who support me. who give up their own comfort and make sacrifices to take care of me just because we're friends.
some of them are people i've met anywhere from a week ago to 2 months ago who have spoken into my life more than i could've imagined possible. who make me laugh harder than i've gotten to laugh in what feels like years. who show me God within them and their hearts and the way they love.
i'm still trying to get to know these people. because as much as they have put into my life, i honestly don't know very much about some of them. for some, this will be easy for me to do. for others, it's going to be extremely difficult, but i'm determined. i'm not going to lose this.

one of the most frustrating things to me is when i meet someone and for some reason or another we both automatically assume that each of us doesn't like the other. i assume they don't like me and they assume i don't like them. i really don't know if there has ever been a case where i met someone and just did not like them. the whole process can take off months of what could be a really strong friendship. luckily, that's been happening less lately. i keep meeting these people who are so open and welcoming that they make it really easy to love and be loved as brothers and sisters in Christ.

God puts people in our lives for a reason. and i'm finding people in mine who let me cry to them. who let me laugh at stupid things with them. who let me dance and go crazy with them. who let me worship Him with them. who put up with my annoying habits and characteristics and insist that i'm really not that bad. people who let me share what God is doing with my life with them. and who will share back. and if God hadn't begun to give me all of this right when He did, i would be falling apart right now. but i'm not. because He is good. and He sustains. and He Loves. and He is Love.
i am in a great mood. i have been for the past month and 1/2.

[oh, my soul has never had this feeling
it feels like gold
you got so much love in you]

October 15, 2007

the sun stood still

so yesterday at Elevation, we started our Dominate sermon series. but today i have a blog from Sun Stand Still.. not really sure why i didn't post this earlier.

ok so i have a friend and for the sake of this we'll call her "Jorge." haha it's a running joke with us. it's funny to me.
anyways, jorge used to not believe in God. i'm not sure if you could call her an atheist or what, but i know she didn't believe in God and didn't care. she did some messed up things and made some mistakes (and accidentally led me to make one of the same mistakes. but that's my fault, not hers. i don't think she even knows that she had any part in me dealing with this.. and it's also a different story that will never be publicly posted on the internet haha). i'm not bashing her, i loved and love her so much for going through the crap she's gone through and she's strong. to me, it's important to know what people have been through to fully understand how far they've come.

this summer she went to a yig...thing. a conference or something. it was up in the mountains. and i guess the beauty of nature and the people she was with in that place made her realize that there was more. that there had to be Someone who created it because it's just that amazing. and she gave her life to Christ.

she never actually told me flat out. but one day i sent her an IM about something i was about to do...maybe auditions. and she said: "good luck forreal. i know you're going to beast it.i'll pray k" word for word. i saved it because it meant that much to me. i love that 2 words [i'll pray] tell me her life has changed in volumes.
and we've started writing letters to each other. and in her first one to me, she wrote:
"since we're writing each other letters, can we tell each other our favorite verses for the week?! is it strange to you yet how sold out to Christ i am now? :] well this is my new favorite. [for if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgement; if He did not spare the ancient world when He brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if He rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless-if THIS is so, then the Lord knows how to RESCUE the godly from trials] 2 Peter (2:4-10)"
and she goes on to talk about how she's sad she missed out on 17 years of God, but is excited to be learning now.
[p.s. we're big supporters of the To Write Love On Her Arms movement which is why the word "rescue" and the theme of that in these verses is so important. rescue is coming. love is the movement]

God has completely turned this girl around.
from who she was to who she is is an amazing journey, and it blows my mind.
the reason this deals with "Sun Stand Still" is because her salvation is something i never thought would happen. it was definitely something that only happened because God needed it to. it was something i had prayed about and i know she has a lot of people in her life who were praying for it. and seeing her turn to Christ is what made me realize that my own family can experience the same thing and come to know Him and it's worth praying about every single day because it's not a hopeless issue. really her story to me means that anyone can be saved at any time and it will all come together in God's time. i'm saving this letter she wrote to me and every letter she will write in the future because it's solid proof to me that God can move in huge ways. He can change whoever He wants, no matter how hopeless you think that case is.

[what a beautiful Savior
what a beautiful God
who would love me for who i am not
who would lay down His life for the person i'll be]

October 14, 2007

it's only going to get better

we're only going to get crazier.
i'm only going to jump higher and dance more and smile bigger and sing louder and laugh harder and live...more.
but that's not the case for everyone.

lately in the services at Elevation, i notice people getting comfortable. people who used to get really loud and pumped about church sitting and being complacent with just showing up. people who used to get so on fire and excited for what God could do in their lives not seeming excited anymore.

so me and jeremy were talking about this today. how we go in and jump and dance and go crazy (with rob, too) while everyone else turns around and stares at us. we yell and scream and shout 'amen' because we honestly believe in the Gospel that is being preached and the words in the songs that we're singing. we believe that God is moving in us and in Elevation like He's never moved before (at least, not in my life so far). we believe it enough to become undignified. i love it. i love getting looks like we're retarded. because i'm on fire for God and i love to show Him and sometimes singing and dancing like an idiot is the best way i know how. it just so happens that i have 2 phenomenal friends who will let me stand between them to do it.

[i don't understand how you can go to church and NOT get excited about God. and i love that my excitement is finally stable. in that i have it, no matter where i am. because last year i really couldn't say that. Elevation got me pumped, but other churches did not. but now i realize that it's God that gets me pumped, not this place (even though it is super amazing).]

and i just realized this. i think the reason i'm getting more and more excited about worship is because i'm working with kids more. kids have freedom to do whatever they want. granted, some kids in Motion are just not excited about who God is. but they're young and i'm confident that they'll pick it up :] anyways, they can dance and jump and scream without shame. leading worship for Motion is one of my favorite things to do and i've only done it twice. and the more i babysit and the more i get to sing and dance and play with kids, the less i care about what other adults think of me. and i think i love worshiping with rob and jeremy specifically so much because their personalities in worship are a lot like mine.
basically completely undignified.

it's awesome.
and you should try it.

[I am gonna show you what I mean
I am gonna Love like you've never seen
you are gonna live like you used to dream
this is your new song.
don't get comfortable]

everything was beautiful

last night i went to a mauldin high school football game
and i LOVED it.
i love high school football (no matter how freaking terrible our team is. last night ended 41-7, i think. amazing).
i love going back to my high school and seeing my old teachers and old coaches and people still going there. i've said before that i place a lot of sentimental value on things. i mean it.
i have plenty of friends who can't stand going back.

and i have friends who will never escape.
i loved high school. i love visiting. but you could not pay me enough money to relive it.
i'll visit, but i won't let myself get stuck in the past, even though it's really easy to.

high school was great. it was easy. it was fun. i had a lot more friends than i feel like i do now. i could walk down the hall and say hey to like 20 people and feel good and love my teachers and feel smart and be confident and get solos and do talent shows and score goals. i did well in the things i wanted to do well in.

but i can't get stuck there.
because i've grown up. a lot. a whole lot. and i want to continue growing up. and i will.

see, constantly looking into the past and longing for what we used to have and used to be hinders us a great deal. and God calls us to greater things that sitting around daydreaming about stuff that doesn't exist anymore. He doesn't call us to live in the future daydreaming about things we have no control over, either. but that's for another time.

October 12, 2007

the flowers are crying to be heard

i love my grandma.
we've lived in the same house my entire life. in both our house in new york and the one here, she's always had this apartment-type setup in our basement. it's cool. she's always been around. being a babysitter. chauffeur (which, p.s., is like THE hardest word i've had to spell in a really long time). atm. advice-giver. everything. she is so much.

i don't know if i've ever been friends with or talked in depth with someone who had dealt with a family member with Alzheimer's. i wish i could say i have.
because a couple weeks ago, my mom took my grandma to the doctor. the visit was long overdue. the trip to the doctor wasn't really a good one and she was diagnosed with dementia, but my mom found a way to make it humorous. because making jokes takes some of the weight of it away. and even though we can't joke about it forever, it is good. it helps.

because i can't deal with this. because this is heavy. and this is real. and she is not well. and i don't know how to deal with this.
and if you don't think it's such a big deal, then that's fine. but i don't know what i'm supposed to do when i look at her one day and she doesn't know who i am. because i'm never home. i've been home once in the past 2 months. if she can't remember my brother, who is here every day (and whom she now refers to as "that young man"), how is she supposed to know who i am. she's already been calling me Judy for years (her daughter who passed away years ago).

and, don't get me wrong, i am fully confident that God will get my family through this, even if the total process of her losing it is ridiculously long and painful. and i'm not really sure what to pray for with this. because she'll get worse, no matter what. that's just the way this works. so do i pray for her? i guess that she's not scared? i pray for my mom, of course. and michael. and me?

basically, if you read this, we're probably friends and i probably love you. a LOT. and you're probably going to have to be prepared. because at some point within the next months or longer, depending, i'm gonna flip out.
and i feel selfish writing this because i feel like it's about how my grandma's sickness is affecting ME. and i know my mom has been dealing with this for a while on her own, holding out on details. because if she breaks down, everyone breaks down. and i love her for that. for protecting us.

so i'm asking for prayers for my grandma and her sanity. her health. her safety.
for my mom and her heart. her strength. her burden of holding up 3 other people.
for my brother and his strength. because he refuses to be vulnerable and that can't be easy all the time. for his faith in God.
lastly, for me.

[and originally i was gonna write a happier blog about not getting stuck in the past.. so i guess that'll come tomorrow]

October 11, 2007

we won't be quiet

i am extremely emotional.

not because i am a girl, thank you. i know plenty of girls who basically never cry. shut up, boy.
it's because that's how God chose to make me.
and i have spent most of my life annoyed by this and wanting it to change, and there are many times i still do want it to change. but for some reason, over the past year or so, i've been realizing that the whole overly-emotional thing isn't always bad.

because being emotional doesn't just mean i cry a lot, even if that is the case. lately, i've found out that it means i feel EVERY emotion stronger. i really believe i feel things stronger than 99% of the people i'm friends with. sometimes, yea this is bad. because sometimes i can be overly dramatic about things. sometimes i feel like such a child because i make such a big deal about things that no one else really cares much about. i just feel things differently.

there are two areas where this overload of emotions shows up the most:
which really the three are just like one big group most of the time. because most of the music that makes me feel the most, i've gotten from or because of elevation.

God is teaching me that there is no shame in letting myself be consumed.

when i step into providence or butler high schools or think about going there or hear music we play there or hang out with people i know from elevation i FLIP OUT inside. i love it. my chest.. my lungs.. my heart is on fire for what God does through this body. and as soon i walk in and hear the music.. i'm gone. and i am consumed by what God does with me in that time. and i will dance [i will sing to be mad for my King. nothing, Lord is hindering this passion in my soul] and be a fool and get SUPER excited about Jesus Christ and I DO NOT CARE WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT ME BECAUSE I AM BUSY BEING CONSUMED BY A HOLY SAVIOR WHO MAKES ME BURN INSIDE.

basically, my emotions take over in a lot of situations. it could be bad, but today i fully realized that God put that in my list of characteristics and personality traits and i'm gonna deal with tears and laughing way too hard for the rest of my life.

so.. whatever you notice about yourself that you think is super annoying to other people.. who cares? God made you that way for a specific purpose and i guarantee you can reach someone through that trait.

i feel good

You never let go

God answers our prayers.
you just have to ACTUALLY pray them.

everything about Elevation the past three weeks has been about the movement of God in our lives. it's about big prayers and big leaps of faith and big risks. it's about praying things that make us look ridiculously dumb if they don't work out.

throughout this sermon series, i've had a hard time really coming up with a "sun stand still" kind of prayer. one that could tear my world apart if answered. one that could devastate me if left unanswered.
the most i could come up with is still pretty important, but a little vague.
the past 3 weeks i've been praying for my family's salvation.

so yea, this is extremely important, but like i said, it's vague.
we'll get there.

i was raised Catholic. i'm not sure if it's because of the religion or because of my family's personality, but we've never really been a family to talk about our faith.
[let me just say, that i completely understand why God did things the way He did in my life and i'm eternally grateful. i would not be who i am if things didn't go exactly as He planned]
it never occured to me that worship and loving Jesus could be a familial, relational process.
so, growing up this way, i never fully understood the concept of salvation or being "saved." yea i knew that if you did good things and prayed to God and loved people you could go to this awesome place called Heaven. but then there was hell. and purgatory and that just involved a lot of babies and people floating around in an empty space waiting to be prayed out of there...my point is, i was never encouraged to talk about God. we didn't say grace before every meal; only on Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas. we gave up on saying prayers before sleep really early on (though i will always remember saying now i lay me down to sleep, i pray the Lord my soul to keep and if i die before i wake, i pray the Lord my soul to take). God was supposed to be at church, not necessarily at home.

so when i was 15 i went to this amazing camp on the beach with amazing friends who cared enough to drag me there and amazing music that showed me that there could be a fire inside me that burned for something larger than what i had been living for. and i came home and it was awkward. and no one in my family knew what to say or how to respond to an active faith. i spent my childhood practicing a calm, passive, watchful faith in God. not really believing. now there was something else. fire. passion. life. Jesus.

[anyways, sorry for getting off topic] every summer i would come back from this place with a little bit more in my life. a little bit happier. a little bit smarter. a lot more in love with this dude, Jesus. and for some reason the idea of talking to my family about it never came up.

so now, when i'm on a mountaintop and God is alive and burning and proving His own faithfulness along with mine every single day, i'm realizing how important it is for my family to feel the same thing. and because we've never talked about our faith in detail, I JUST DON'T KNOW if they know Jesus or love Him or think/know they're going to Heaven. so my "sun stand still" prayer has been that God would touch them in a way that they could not ignore. that He would make His presence in their lives and hearts known beyond doubt. that He would move them to change...

tonight, for the first time (as far as i can remember), my mom and i talked about God and the Bible. just a little bit, but it was enough to let me know that if i can remain faithful through this process of showing them Christ's love, He will move. if i can make sure i'm doing all i can to witness to them, they will see. if i can show them who God is and who Jesus was and how He loves through my own life, then they will follow.
she doesn't understand my faith yet. but i am determined to show her exactly what God can do with a life that is given to Him completely, even if i am still working on doing that.

October 9, 2007

You've rescued us from death and set us free

sometimes i feel like i come off as a really negative person.

it's easy to complain. it's easy to point out the things in your life that are difficult or awkward or unfair, etc. it's easy to find things that are missing in your life.
sometimes i feel like i spend a lot of time talking about the "bad" things in my life.
2 issues here:

how do i define what is "bad" about my life?
why is it so easy to focus on just those things?

because lately i've found that some of the people or things or actions or conversations or events that i've considered detrimental to my attitude and outlook throughout my life have turned out to be some of the biggest blessings. some people that have said hateful things that brought me down proved to me that God should be my focus, not my friendships or relationships. some times that i've felt worthless have shown me simply that my worth cannot and should not be found on earth, but in God. i've had conversations with people in which i feel like i failed to get a single point across only to realize later that things came out perfectly clear.
things that i've considered "bad" in the past are easily turned around and made "good." God makes things new and good, and even if they were bad at the time, He turns life around.

a lot of times, i'll spend several minutes complaining about something. anything. just to complain. i have a friend who is constantly aware of the good things God has put into her life because she experiences loss on a daily basis. she inspires me. she is strong because she understands that no matter how much we have to complain about, we have it so easy. we have food, money, an education, love, a beautiful Savior.
lately i've been realizing that i have NOTHING to complain about.
my life is full of blessings. my life is FULL, completely full of love. i have enough love today to last me a lifetime. but thankfully, i get more tomorrow. :]

i could not ask for anything more than what i have.
i can't stand negative people. i mean, everyone should get to be negative at some point in their life. but i know several people who could fill a book with negative thoughts. i don't enjoy that. i don't want to do that. i don't want to be that.
it's more than enough that God makes the sun rise every single day.
it's more than enough that i am alive and He loves me.
i have nothing to complain about.

October 8, 2007

i want to burn out bright

i am intensely in love with the position i am in right now.

God is calling me to big things.
i'm screwing it up so badly.
i am horrible. really.

He has called me to take a year of my life, and refocus. to rebuild with Him. to make my walls strong. to become a woman worthy of being pursued.
and it is going to be awesome.
and i honestly believe that on september 3, 2008, i will be a different, better person than i am today. and i believe it's going to be hard. and i believe i've already made things hard for myself. i've already made mistakes. and it's only been a month. it's ridiculous. but God forgives and we move on and i keep growing.

tonight, i got it, for some reason. i'm not sure if it was Pulse, or spending the weekend with PHENOMENAL, amazing, wonderful people, or just spending a lot of time this weekend serving Christ, or what. but tonight it hit me that i am meant for so much more than what i'm giving myself. and that things are hard, but are really easy,too. that i can and will be pure; in thoughts, words and actions. that i will NEVER be righteous, but i can try. and i will try.

i am better than this.
and i am incredibly excited to see what God has in store for the next 11 months (and beyond) of my life.

October 4, 2007

back to the basics

lately i've been having trouble breathing.
you know when you take a really deep breath and you can feel it "catch" (the only word i can think of to describe it)? usually it happens when you yawn. and you just know your lungs just took in as much air as possible?

i can't seem to get that as easily anymore.
i struggle. not with breathing, but with feeling like my lungs are FULL. it's a problem. it's distracting me, and well...it's getting annoying to breathe.

so i was thinking about how could this possibly teach me something about God or the way He works and is working in my life right now. and then i realized that at 1:12 in the morning, i still haven't done my quiet time today. and it tends to be the very last thing i do in the day.
breathing is essential. simple. basic. but it's the most important thing we do. it is life.
i constantly put aside simple things like praying and especially reading the Word, even though they are LIFE. they are essential, simple and basic.
if i'm not doing the simplest things, how can God move in the biggest ways?
if i ignore the basics, how can i learn anything more?
if i can get back to the basics and remain faithful in the simple ways, won't He move so much more in the rest of my life? in the big things?

October 3, 2007

you don't have a chance

i love this:

do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. [NIV]
don't think I've come to make life cozy. I've come to cut. [the message remix]
[matthew 10.34]

Jesus was INTENSE. He didn't come to give us this really cushy, comfortable life. He didn't come so we'd have everything we've ever wanted or thought we needed. He wasn't here to throw us a party. God didn't wrap Himself up in flesh and blood and leave the most wonderful, beautiful, incomparable experience of Heaven to come down to a disease-ridden, poverty-stricken hell like this for fun. a king doesn't leave his warm, comfy throne to visit the peasants without a purpose.
He came with a sword to cut. to fight away sin and evil and temptation. He left the highest seat to come down and fight for us and with us. He was intense and ready and He died on the battlefield, but He gave us a start. and now it's our turn to continue fighting. He had to come to us to show us what we were missing. He had to come to us to show us how to fix it and how to do things right. He became the law in human form to be an example for us. He took every single one of our burdens on Himself and suffered separation from the Father for us.

i love this. i love the Bible. and i love Jesus and that He makes the Bible intense. i love that the Bible isn't a kid's story. tell a child that Jesus came to the earth to DESTROY THINGS. i mean, boys might think that's cool...but you tell them that their Savior is really this cutthroat warrior who came to prove something. and He did. it's awesome.